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Houston Reacts To Mass Shootings In New Zealand, Trump Vetoes Congressional Effort To Limit Border Wall Funding, And Texas’ Shortages Of Low-Income Rentals

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Houston Reacts To Mass Shootings In New Zealand

Houstonians are reacting to the mass shootings in two New Zealand mosques that left at least 49 people dead and dozens more injured. New Zealand police have charged a 28-year-old man with murder, and have taken two others into custody. A fourth person turned out to have been arrested on an unrelated charge.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke to News 88.7 and said whenever a crime like this occurs, one of the first fears of law enforcement is the risk of a copycat. "You start thinking about copycats and people watching this news," he said, "and then you add mental illness and hatred and everything else that goes along with it."

Mayor Sylvester Turner held a news conference to condemn the attacks. "There are no words, absolutely no words, to describe the horror the victims must have felt," he said.

Turner noted the Houston Police Department is increasing patrols around the 30-plus mosques located across Houston. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has also directed his agency to increase patrolling around mosques.

Sobia Siddiqui, with the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Houston Matters they "are encouraging the Muslim community to not lose hope, not give into fear, go and pray, and pray for the families and pray for the victims."

President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency, overruling Congress to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding.

Trump Vetoes Congressional Effort To Limit Border Wall Funding

President Trump used his veto pen for the first time Friday, after Congress tried to reverse his national emergency declaration and rein in spending on a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congressional critics do not appear to have the votes to override Trump's veto. So, as a practical matter, the administration can continue to spend billions of dollars more on border barriers than lawmakers authorized, unless and until the courts intervene.

"Today I am vetoing this resolution," Trump said, flanked by law enforcement officials at an Oval Office event. "Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it."

Trump had telegraphed his plan to proceed with additional wall spending on Thursday, minutes after the Senate voted 59-41 to block it. Twelve Republican senators joined Democrats in rejecting the president's emergency declaration.

The Jeremiah Program Moody Campus, an affordable housing development in Austin.

Texas’ Shortages Of Low-Income Rentals

Texas is lacking in low-income housing, according to a new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. As far as availability, Houston had the lowest per-capita rate of available affordable units, followed by Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

The availability of affordable rental housing for extremely low-income renters in Texas – those making below the federal poverty level or 30 percent of an area's median income – was 29 homes available for every 100 renters. The national rate is 37 homes.

The report found a shortage of 600,000 homes across the state; nationally that gap was more than 7.2 million. Overall, no state had an adequate amount of affordable housing.

The analysis also found that those renting – or trying to rent – in Texas have financial hurdles on top of a diminished stock.

Three-quarters of the 843,000 households with extremely low-incomes in Texas had severe cost burdens – meaning they spend more than half of their household income on rent.

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